The Emperor of Portugallia
Selma Lagerlof's Swedish King Lear
First US edition, hardback bound in blue cloth boards with gilt titling to spine and upper board. 20.5 × 13.5cm, 323pp.
Considered by the author to be a Swedish King Lear, this novel is set in the 1870s, in Lagerlöf's native Värmland and is about the tenant farmer Jan in Skrolycka and his daughter Glory Goldie Sunnycastle. He loves his daughter more than anything else, but after she moves to Stockholm at age 17, she stops sending letters home. The father sinks into a dream world where he imagines she has become a noble empress of "Portugallia", and he thus also a great Emperor himself. His whole life is dominated by thoughts of her return, and what then will happen. In his role as Emperor residing in the poor countryside, he can challenge the area's social hierarchies: wearing his imperial regalia, he sits at the front of the church, takes place at the head table at parties and tries to socialize with local landlords.
A good reading copy, the blue cloth is darkened to the spine with light rubbing and bumping to the corners. The front hinge is neatly reinforced with clear tape, the main body of text in good order.